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Friday, January 06, 2012

Markusen: Card Corner: 1972 Topps—Ed Brinkman

Or as we used to elongatingly say…“Dibs on the Dibny card!”

eddie brinkman

At first glance, he looks a bit odd. That neck is awfully long. On a peculiar level, that protracted neck is what first comes to mind when I think of Eddie Brinkman. No photograph better illustrates this than his 1972 Topps card. It’s a wonder he was never nicknamed “The Giraffe.” Sportswriter extraordinaire Tom Stanton, noticing Brinkman’s long neck and small head of hair, has called him “The Turtle.” Turtles have long necks and small heads without hair, so I guess that’s a pretty accurate assessment.

It might be accurate to characterize “Steady Eddie” as the diametrical opposite to Walt “No Neck” Williams, the journeyman outfielder who played for the Colt .45s, White Sox, Indians and Yankees. Of all the players in the history of the game, Williams may have the shortest neck ever; his head looked as if it had been placed directly onto his collar bone, on a level completely even with his shoulders. In an intriguing oddity that seemingly only baseball can produce, Brinkman and No Neck Williams were actually teammates with the 1975 Yankees. It makes you wonder if any free-thinking photographer took a picture of the two standing side by side.

...As with Belanger, Brinkman’s weakness became evident every time he took a bat in his hands. He just couldn’t hit. Brinkman usually struggled to hit no more than .220, and did so with little power. He wasn’t a particularly good bunter or hit-and-run man, so he really couldn’t help you play small ball either. So Brinkman just choked up on the bat, a good five to six inches from the knob in his later years, and tried to punch the ball somewhere.

Repoz Posted: January 06, 2012 at 05:53 AM | 17 comment(s) Login to Bookmark
  Tags: history, memorabilia

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   1. depletion Posted: January 06, 2012 at 08:33 AM (#4030189)
Excellent article, Bruce. Somewhere there's a place for the "legendary" good-field, no-hit shortstops of the 60's and 70's to relax and reminisce about great infield pop ups and stikeouts with runners on third.
   2. Pasta-diving Jeter (jmac66) Posted: January 06, 2012 at 10:08 AM (#4030258)
one of the reasons that Teddy Ballgame had a (very short-lived) reputation as a master hitting instructor/guru:

Brinkman, in the 2 years with Williams as manager: 264/329/312 OPS+ = 84

certainly nothing to write home about except,

year before Williams: 187/259/202 OPS+ = 44*
year after: 228/293/275 OPS+ = 59

*that's cheating a bit, because the "year before Williams" was 1968, the year of the pitcher, and virtually everyone showed improvement in 1969
   3. donlock Posted: January 06, 2012 at 10:19 AM (#4030267)
Eddie was playing in the show, full-time at age 20 and never played in the minors.

Baseball Ref says he played for Texas eleven years. He actually played one game for Texas at the end of his career. The eleven years were with the Senators, of course. He was traded before they moved to Texas.

One of the underrated DP combos of the 60's was Eddie and Don Blasingame. Steady Eddie and the Blazer(who just lost his job in Cincinnati to a kid named Rose)were given plenty of ground ball practice with the Senator pitching staffs of the day.
   4. Johnny Slick Posted: January 06, 2012 at 11:11 AM (#4030335)
Before they were famous: Reed Richards.
   5. Bruce Markusen Posted: January 06, 2012 at 12:55 PM (#4030492)
Brinkman gave a lot of credit for his hitting improvement to Nellie Fox, who was his batting coach in Washington. Fox convinced him to use a bat with a thicker handle and choke up further on the bat.
   6. Bob Evans Posted: January 06, 2012 at 01:39 PM (#4030571)

In 1972, he hit .203...and finished 9th in the MVP voting. His OPS was only slighly better than third-place finisher Sparky Lyle's.

Edit: Coke to Bruce. That'll teach me to just read the blurb before researching.
   7. The District Attorney Posted: January 06, 2012 at 03:08 PM (#4030680)
In 1972, he hit .203...and finished 9th in the MVP voting.
That's really interesting. How many position players hitting around .200 have been top 10 MVP finishers? I would think damn few. I mean, I'm sure there have been some guys with very low OPS+ or what have you, but I bet they at least had better batting averages than .203.
   8. KJOK Posted: January 06, 2012 at 05:05 PM (#4030736)
Elston Howard hit .178 in 1968, but didn't make top 10 MVP, finishing 17th.
   9. Bruce Markusen Posted: January 06, 2012 at 06:56 PM (#4030830)
Thanks for the good word, depletion and Bob. Brinkman is a fun topic.

All right, I give up. Who's Reed Richards?
   10. The Well-Tempered Javier Vasquez (loungehead) Posted: January 06, 2012 at 07:58 PM (#4030873)
All right, I give up. Who's Reed Richards?

Mr. Fantastic of the Fantastic Four, he of the super-stretchy super-power.
   11. Mike Emeigh Posted: January 06, 2012 at 09:41 PM (#4030927)
Eddie was playing in the show, full-time at age 20 and never played in the minors.

Not true. He played in a couple of low-level leagues in 1961 and played 58 games for Raleigh in 1962, hitting .324 and slugging .532 to earn himself a callup. The Capitals in 1962 also had John Kennedy, a very similar type of player who also hit very well there.

The park in which they played, Devereux Meadow, sat on Peace Street between West Street and Capital Blvd (an area through which I travel quite a bit); it's currently a parking lot for city trash trucks. There's a creek that runs through the area, and there's been some discussion of developing a riverwalk similar to San Antonio's in the area - it's just a couple of blocks from the trendy Glenwood South district, and also just a few blocks from Peace College.

-- MWE
   12. Mr. Hotfoot Jackson (gef, talking mongoose) Posted: January 06, 2012 at 11:04 PM (#4030961)
All right, I give up. Who's Reed Richards?

My god. My weep for my (or someone's, anyway) generation.
   13. The Well-Tempered Javier Vasquez (loungehead) Posted: January 06, 2012 at 11:19 PM (#4030974)
Gef, you're one of the regulars around here who's big into comics, right? Assuming I remembered this correctly...

I'm starting to get back into them after about a 20-year hiatus. Do you have a preferred site to go to if I want back issues? (Clearly I won't be buying 20 years' worth of my favorite titles, but I'd probably fill in a story arc here and there, and see a bit of what I've missed along the way.)
   14. Mr. Hotfoot Jackson (gef, talking mongoose) Posted: January 06, 2012 at 11:28 PM (#4030982)
Other than eBay (of course), give or a look. Mile High's prices can be outrageous except when tempered with code-word specials (& if you're after higher-grade stuff they stay outrageous); the 60 percent-off NEWYEAR code-word is in effect till noon Monday Mountain Time, an email informed me about a minute ago. Lone Star's -- mycomicshop, that is -- code-word discounts (this week the word is HAPPYNEWYEAR -- are far more restricted & modest, but then in general their prices are usually better.

I'm starting to get back into them after about a 20-year hiatus.

Be very, very careful. About 8 years ago I was you, except that my hiatus had lasted 25 years. At the time I owned about 30 comics & 4 or 5 related trade paperbacks, having ditched my collection in the summer of '81. Now the count is more like 15,000, along with probably 400 or so hardcovers & TPBs. *sigh*
   15. The Well-Tempered Javier Vasquez (loungehead) Posted: January 06, 2012 at 11:49 PM (#4030991)
Thanks for the response, greatly appreciated. I will check those places out.

that's quite the impressive collection. I still have the few hundred I collected as an early teenager (a good chunk of which were issues of FF). Luckily(?), economics and my wife are significant factors, but your warning is definitely noted. If nothing else, when I'm broke and divorced but have an amazing collection, I'll message you for the world's most awesomely deserved "told you so."
   16. Howie Menckel Posted: January 07, 2012 at 01:00 AM (#4031022)

My 11-year-old self got a couple of packs of this set from my non-baseball fan, college-age big brother for my summer birthday one year.

They were from that goofy "extra series" of this year.

Incredible at that point in the year to open packs where EVERY card was a new find.
Some may have been the first "TRADEDS," too, iirc.

Good times.

And yes, I still have 'em all....

   17. Bruce Markusen Posted: January 07, 2012 at 12:13 PM (#4031173)
Howie, do you have the entire '72 set? That would be nice to have.

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